By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– There was once upon a time in which West Salem’s Matt Wilch did not play Lacrosse.
That lasted about four weeks as Wilch tried his hand at Track and Field his freshman year.
Having played Lacrosse since the seventh-grade, the Titan Senior knew his heart belonged with the helmet and stick instead of the track suit and shoes after those short few weeks on the track. So about five weeks into the Spring season, he donned the Lacrosse uniform once more.
“I did track for about four weeks my freshman year, and then I decided I didn’t enjoy it. All my friends that were playing Lacrosse were telling me how much they wanted me back and then I knew it was right for me to play Lacrosse because that’s where my heart lied,” starts Wilch. “So, I went back at about five weeks.
“It was great. There was no better feeling than playing Lacrosse for me. It’s my happy place honestly.”
As a member of the Titan defensive backfield Wilch picked up Second-Team (2018) and First-Team (2019) honors in the backfield where West Salem held true to their strength of defense during the next two seasons.
Playing alongside Victor Hernandez, who was an North Valley First Teamer and All-State Honorable Mention in 2018 in defense and battling low in numbers during those two years, the Titans added to their North Valley Conference-Title winning streak as they pushed it to seven entering this year.
It was a trickle-down effect from those who came before him in terms of leadership. The Hernandez’, Simon Smith’s and Wyatt Livengood’s who were Seniors Wilch’s sophomore year that set the pace for guys like him the filled their shoes.
“It was amazing,” said Wilch. “I think the only reason why our defense was so good was because of our leaders that came before me. They just taught me the way of how to be a leader, how to play Lacrosse better and how to be a better person.”
As family, friends, teammates swarmed his driveway Thursday evening to see him sign to play at Oregon State University for Lacrosse, as a defenseman, the pressure of performing well will help out. With the pressure of ‘The Streak’ and not wanting to lose it, it will help Wilch entering this next chapter of his playing career with the Beavers of Corvallis.
“It’s going to be extremely important because it’s a team sport and anyone slacks off at all, the whole team suffers,” said Wilch. “I always put in extra work outside of practice so I can do my part for the team.
“It’s kind of stressful at the start,” laughs Wilch of the streak. “It’s the best feeling in the world to win it and just know that you earned it and you kept the legacy going for those people who came before you.”
Oregon State went 3-2 this past season coming off of a tough 1-9 season in 2019. Between 2013 and 2017, the Beavers went 57-19 with five-straight seasons with at least 10 wins, including an 13-4 season in 2013.
The opportunity to join a college sports dream has been a life-long dream of Wilch’s, and for it being in Lacrosse, it is an added bonus for the West Salem student-athlete.
“It’s like a dream come true. My entire life I’ve wanted to play collegiate sports,” said Wilch. “First I wanted to be college football until I started playing Lacrosse and then I just feel in love with Lacrosse.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald